June 10, 2011

fab service

Outstanding customer service. THAT never happens. No wait, it just did!

I just set up an HSA account at a new bank because the service, features and fees at the old bank were consistently underwhelming. That's putting it nicely. When a new fee surprised me, the representative I talked to rudely advised, obviously you missed the notification about that, it was included in your last statement. Proving he was right was the straw that lost my business.

After applying online, I received the paperwork & debit card in just a week from my new provider, First American Bank (FAB). Over the next 2 days, I set up online banking, electronic deposits and funds transfer from my old account.

For these 3 actions, I called with a question for customer service. No waiting on hold, a warm helpful voice quickly answered. The first representative answered my question about online banking and suggested they stay on the phone WHILE I set up the online account just to make sure it went smoothly. Wow. Big smile. On the second phone call, the representative promptly and cheerily supplied the information I needed to set up deposits through bill pay at my bank. Home run! Their reps can answer anything. On my 3rd phone call, the FAB representative answered my question about transferring funds and apologized it wasn't the convenient answer I was looking for. Bonus points for empathy!

But the 4th phone call knocked my socks off. 5 minutes later, SHE called me back. She'd done a little homework she said and researched an answer that would work better for me. Then she helped me make the initial deposit transaction I had wanted to make. Grand slam.

I'm in marketing. I'm passionate about helping clients build strong, memorable brands and cultivate customer loyalty. I hadn't read it til now but FAB's website says, We offer sophisticated financial products with state of the art electronic delivery, but at our core, we are a community bank. We differentiate ourselves from our competitors by being easily accessible to our customers. Each of us is dedicated to making your banking experience here a pleasure.

I didn't have to read it. 4 phone calls demonstrated everything about First American Bank's brand. With flawless delivery, I experienced every single one of their brand statements. I chose FAB because of their sophisticated, electronic-delivery products. I'll stay a highly loyal FAB customer because of their service. I'm looking at the other products they offer. I'm banking with FAB...

Want a pleasurable, dependable experience with a bank again? Make it FAB.

June 09, 2011


Nearly 20 years ago, I was joking with friends at a party when I first met Melanie. The comraderie was instant. Within minutes, I felt I was talking with the sister I'd never had. We had so much fun we almost forgot we'd each come to the party with a date! Though we're 10 years apart in age and have never lived in the same city, for the past 20 years we've been inseparable.

We've cycled through jobs, relationships, pets, cars, fashions and hair styles... as best friends. She flew to my wedding holding hand engraved goblets the entire flight so they wouldn't break. She flew out to Austin after I moved there to bring out my cat, Charlie. We've laid on the beach talking for hours. We've eaten our tummies into a mess enjoying the autumnal frivolity of Apple Hill with all things apple and kettle corn. We've gone months without seeing each other and yet pick up right where we left off. There's nothing we can't share.

Crazily independent and strong willed, as we've hashed through some of life's toughest and most humbling moments, we've found solace and courage in each others warmth, humor and support. She's always got my back. I've got hers.

We share a code word we send in a text message when life REALLY sucks and we REALLY need to talk. Velveeta. We picked Velveeta because nothing melts worse into a sticky puddle of goo than Velveeta. Velveeta, sent as a 1-word text message, says, HELP! I really need the sound of your voice right now.

Today is her birthday. Today and when she visits me on Saturday in Sonoma County for a girls-day-out, we're going to celebrate her. I want to make sure she knows how special she is, how much she matters to all of us who love her.

Today, it's not about Velveeta. It's more like super nachos grande!!!

June 07, 2011

to me from me

I giggled chatting with Laurence in her beautiful glass art gallery in Occidental as she gift-wrapped my purchase. Out on my fave convertible, weekend drive thru Sebastopol, Freestone, Bodega, Occidental, and Guerneville, I found my one perfect treat: a necklace and earrings designed by Barbara Harris. I acknowledged this was a gift, to me, from me, with love and affection!

Knowingly, she smiled and shared her own story. As a young girl, she had saved up precious change for a treat of her own. When she was finally able to buy the object of her desire, the store proprietor asked her if it was a gift. No, she muttered somewhat embarrassed, it is just for meAh, the proprietor replied as she wrapped Laurence's little gift, it is a gift for a special girl, indeed. Laurence always wraps her customer's purchases. She knows each one is a gift.

Give yourself a gift. NOT a rationalized one, buy a cherished one. Like my friend Jason suggests, for example, avoid the money-sucking tractor beam at Kohl's, where stuff is 40% off but you don't need it. Don't add $20 more to your Amazon shopping cart just because you'll get $4.95 waived in free shipping.

DO give yourself a smile. It's a guilty pleasure without the guilt. When I order my fave Mahogany coffee beans online, I always fill in that little box where it asks if you want to send a "message" with the shipment. I write something quirky or funny that will make me laugh when I receive it. Sometimes I just write in "to me, from me, with love and affection." 

DO give yourself a treat. In my home office, I make a Judycinno of espresso, steamed milk, flavored syrup, a dash of cinnamon and a chocolate drizzle. Every morning, that aroma, that foam bouncing off the top of my lip and the warmth are a treat. Even alone, I eat on pretty plates, wear earrings or perfume. When we value and treat ourselves with love and respect, we affirm our worth, improve our self-esteem. We give the gift of life joyfully to ourselves. No waiting in line.

Jason is right. It's more the experiences we have, not the stuff we buy, that enhance our happiness. But they are beautifully connected. Every time I play my iPod, I remember I won it in a Kim & Jason contest. Every time I slip on my new jewelry enjoying Barbara's imaginative textures and colors, I'll giggle, think about Laurence, her charm and wit, and wonder what little gem she is wrapping for another happy customer today.

What gift will you treat yourself with today?

June 06, 2011

on the wings of a dare

no cloud ever ruled the sky 
without first defying the sun
no flower ever bloomed
without breaking out of the seed
no baby chick ever hatched
without daring to leave the shell

no artist created a masterpiece
without facing a blank canvas first
no climber ever scaled the peak
still clinging to the valley floor
no answer has ever been right
before risking it might be wrong

we all feel fear

in cowardice, we wither 
scared to fail 
in courage, we thrive 
bravely daring to succeed


June 05, 2011

by appointment only

The sign in the store window caught my eye. Lessons by Appointment Only

It seemed reasonable. Ask the expert at the golf shop to schedule lessons for you; they'll check their calendar and arrange it. 

Giggling as I drove away, I wondered what if life was like that? No lessons, baby, unless we ask first. Lessons by appointment only!

Would we ever call and ask for life's lessons? Lessons might be avoided by those who already think they know everything. They'd be lost on anyone who simply wants to avoid pain. They'd be lost on the arrogant who arrive at their supreme knowledge au solitaire. 

How fortuitous that the best lessons in life arrive on the unwitting.